Today’s lottery meant that at one point this afternoon, as the sea breeze tried its best to shoo away this morning’s light sou’easter, the different course areas were experiencing wind from opposite sides of the dial. While some boats were becalmed, others had full kites and reasonable speed. There was oodles of guesswork involved, and it left many scratching their heads.
The IRC grand prix, IRC Passage and Invitational and Performance Racing divisions had their island race cut short at the southern tip of Pine Island, Bob Oatley’s RP66 Wild Oats X drawing level in the line honours tally by edging out Peter Harburg’s Queensland registered near sistership Black Jack by five minutes.
The two Reichel Pugh 66s slunk along the far western shoreline of the Whitsunday Passage with their Code 0’s flying, trying to stay out of the remnants of the south running flood tide and hunting a light easterly shore breeze.
Michael Hiatt’s Farr 55 Living Doll from Victoria followed the big boats’ lead to finish third over the line, a mere 16 seconds behind Black Jack, and first on corrected time.
Ray Roberts’ Evolution Racing was one of three boats caught in a local back eddy on the south side of Ann and Cole islands and was looking less than famous until they picked up a 12 knot easterly that rocketed the Cookson 50 to the finish line and into second on the IRC results sheet for today’s race.
Third on IRC was Rob Hanna’s Shogun, another caught in the same back eddy with Loki and Evolution Racing, which managed to save face with a third on corrected time. Hanna’s woes began from the starting signal when the Cookson 50 was individually recalled then clipped the pin mark while returning to re-start, forcing a penalty turn.
Hiatt’s second overall win for the regatta has moved him to second on the progressive series pointscore behind new series leader after four races, Evolution Racing which is campaigning for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
The tide and local anomalies played a big role today, a number of starts on the southern area general recalled while individual boats were also recalled for misjudging the 2-3 knot current and overshooting the start line.
In IRC grand prix division 2 Phil Coombs’ Victorian based Dekadence, with Sydney veteran yachtsman Roger Hickman aboard, finished ahead of Rod Jones’ Archambault 40RC Alegria and Jim Farmer’s Farr 43 Georgia One from New Zealand.
Tomorrow, Tuesday 25 August, is a layday for all divisions with a number of shore based activities planned including beach sports, the Audi Drive Challenge, Todd Woodbridge Ultimate Tennis Experience and Moet and Chandon Lunch at the luxury qualia resort.
Racing will resume Wednesday with windward/leewards for the Performance Racing divisions and a short around-the-islands race for all other classes. The forecast has the south east Trade Winds returning Thursday at 13-14 knots, with slightly more pressure expected Friday for the closing races of the week-long regatta.
Results for yesterday’s opening race for the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week IRC grand prix division 1 boats shuffled overnight following arbitration between Wild Joe and Wot Now, and the discovery of a rating office error that has affected Wild Oats X’s handicap placings.
Using the correct handicap rating, Wild Oats X’s first in yesterday’s opening windward/leeward race didn’t stick, Bob Oatley’s RP66 skippered by Mark Richards and flying the Hamilton Island Yacht Club burgee moving to third on the ladder then back up to second after Graeme Wood’s JV 52 Wot Now was penalised for a port/starboard with Steven David’s Reichel Pugh 60 Wild Joe.
This shuffle gave Robert Date’s new Victorian Reichel Pugh 52 Scarlet Runner, with Graeme Taylor helming and famed Australian navigator Will Oxley aboard, the win on corrected time by the slimmest of margins – just three seconds separating Scarlet Runner from Wild Oats.
On the division 1 progressive series scoresheet after three races Scarlet Runner leads Alan Brierty’s RP63 Limit and Ray Roberts’ Cookson 50 Evolution Racing, both sailing for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
Date has stepped up from Sydney 38 one design racing to join the strong fleet of 50-footers racing out of Melbourne.
“The 50 somethings in Melbourne are a good group...Living Doll, Cougar, Shogun. That’s the main reason we have stepped up to a bigger and faster boat,” said Date, who will share the driving with Taylor later in the week when the Trade Winds revisit the area.
“In the light stuff we have got to hit the groove straight out of the blocks, I’ve made the decision to pull back for now. The last couple of days have been challenging for everyone, it’s hard having to put crew off. We are sailing with 12 in the light stuff but when the breeze picks up we’ll go to 16,” Date added.
On his end of year plans, Date says he’s considering signing up for the big one, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, but first needs to fill a couple of key crew spots.
Wot Now took a heavy penalty for its port/starboard with Wild Joe, sliding backwards from the top of the IRC pile in yesterday’s first windward/leeward race to seventh, a result that could figure at the end of the week when the Audi IRC Australian Championship is decided.
Today’s forecast is for 0 to 10 knots with the chance of a glass-out this morning and 2 to 10 knots this afternoon out of the south east.